The Obama Presidential Center
The Obama Presidential Center represents a historic opportunity to build a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates our nation’s first African-American President and First Lady on the South Side of Chicago.
In September 2021, the Clayco | Ardmore Roderick team broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center, which is designed by architects Todd Williams and Billie Tsien and is being built by Lakeside Alliance. It will be a place to reflect and grow, connect and create; to tap into the visitors’ sense of purpose, and discover the change they want to make in the world. It will be a place to honor history while inspiring young people to write chapters of their own.
The Museum building will be a new landmark for the South Side, welcoming visitors to Jackson Park and marking the Center as a historic civic destination. The Museum building’s design embodies the idea of ascension—of a movement upward from the grassroots. Its form is inspired by the idea of four hands coming together; a recognition that many hands shape a place.
A new branch of the Chicago Public Library will feature interactive digital media spaces and amenities for children, informational and vocational resources for adults, and a reading room for all to enjoy. This unique partnership is the first of its kind and will provide almost every South Side resident with access to a public library within walking distance. The branch will also have a garden on its roof. Similar to the garden that Mrs. Obama planted at the White House, it will be a place where young people and community members can get their hands dirty and learn about growing fruits and vegetables—and there will even be a few bee hives for honey.
The park surrounding the Center will offer play areas, walking paths, and a sledding hill, all connected by a long pedestrian promenade that joins the Center to Jackson Park and runs alongside its beautiful and historic lagoons. And it wouldn’t be the Obama Presidential Center without a place to shoot some hoops. The fourth main building on the campus will be the Program, Athletic, and Activity Center. The facility will be a home for recreation, community programming, and events.